"Here endeth the lesson"


Writing in the Guardian (December 13, 2006), James Randerson evaluates the recent attempts of creationists to sabotage evolution education in Britain's public schools. Giving the creationists credit for their rhetorical skills, he notes that scientists have been cast "as dogmatic, reactionary and even fundamentalist aggressors who would deny school pupils the chance to hear all sides of the debate." But in reality, he argues, "intelligent design" is just a revival of Paley, whose argument from design was undermined by Darwin: "And natural selection works just as well for molecular machines as it does for eyes, flippers and wings. ID, by comparison, explains nothing. It is an intellectual dead end marked: 'The designer did it.' Why bother trying to understand the natural world when there is the cosy God-explanation in all-too-easy reach?" Randerson concludes, "Let's be honest: despite its scientific-sounding frills and baubles, ID is pure religion. It is a reincarnation of an old idea that Darwin dispensed with and it has no place in a science class."

The Guardian also devoted a recent podcast to creationism on December 11, 2006, featuring Lewis Wolpert, the distinguished developmental biologist and vice president of the British Humanist Association, in the studio, as well as interviews with the paleontologist Simon Conway Morris, Richard Buggs of Truth in Science (the creationist organization that incited the present controversy by sending "intelligent design" materials to the science heads of every secondary school in the United Kingdom), and NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott. Noting that the First Amendment isn't applicable in the United Kingdom, Scott suggested that those in Britain concerned about the integrity of science education focus on the scientific problems with the Truth in Science packets: "This is just really bad science that you should not be miseducating your students with." She also stressed the importance of training educators to be able to recognize the scientific and pedagogical flaws of antievolution propaganda materials.